creative freelancer conference recap: taxes & proposals

creative freelancer conference 2009

the first 2 thursday morning sessions of the creative freelancer conference dealt with the business-end of design: taxes and proposals. creatives notoriously struggle with balancing out the finer points of paperwork in our lives, so these sessions are a great mix of new & innovative information as well as cheerleading to keep us all on the right path.

money-saving tax solutions for creatives with june walker
walker started off the morning sessions with a lot of helpful tax advice, first and foremost that creatives have a specific set of concerns with our businesses and it’s important to work with a tax professional who understands how the law best applies to us. rather than give a run-down of standard deductions, she explained how some deductions can be interpreted differently in various situations, and dispelled some common misunderstandings of tax law. her book, self-employed tax solutions is a great value and comes highly recommended as a definitive reference guide for self-employed creatives.

the essential rules for writing and presenting proposals with peleg top
if you find yourself spending too much time crafting proposals that don’t necessarily get you the work you want, it’s time to take a better look at your marketing process and redefine how a proposal can work within it. top offers the 3 elements in an effective sales cycle to work toward using your proposal as a recap of a sales meeting rather than using it as a selling tool: put a strong brand for your business in place, operate a well-oiled marketing machine to attract ideal clients, and have the right conversation with potential clients:
– ask how they chose your firm and how they define their challenge as well as a successful solution.
– ask them to define their market, goals & objectives, and what models they’re using.
– ask where they are in the buying process, speak to the decision-makers and ask how their process works.
– ask what kind of research has been done and will it be available to you.
– ask what level of involvement they want from you: strategy or execution?
– based on these criteria, ask about the 2 most critical resources allocated: timeline and budget. talk about both and agree upon realistic solutions in person!

once you get your potential client to this point, the proposal itself should be a recap of the discussion as a project scope, timeline, list of deliverables and cost estimate. the support info you include should be boilerplate copy you have on file, including terms & conditions, and information about the design team. this system should change how you approach proposals and minimize the time you spend preparing them. always present in person, and stay in touch with clients who are still on the fence—they may just need more time to decide. once they do, get a signed contract and a deposit check—and get to work!

[photo by bruce wayne stanley]

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